The electronic health card: what it’s for and what it can do

In Germany everyone must have health insurance. Those with statutory health insurance can use services with their electronic health card (eGK). The card is proof of insurance. Here we outline the main features of the card and provide a preview of future functions.

Protected abroad too thanks to EHIC

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is on the back of the electronic health card. This allows you to get medical attention for acute conditions quickly in other European countries without red tape. The EHIC is valid in all EU states as well as in the UK, Iceland, Liechtenstein, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Norway, Switzerland and Serbia.

The following data will be stored on the electronic health card from 2021 if the patient wishes:

  • electronic medication plan
  • emergency records

From 2021: electronic health records

From 1 January 2021 those with statutory health insurance will – on a voluntary basis – be able to securely manage their health documents with an electronic health record (EHR) for life. The information contained in these documents will be available to both the patient and the treating doctors, dentists, psychotherapists and pharmacists (“service providers” for short) – provided the insured person has given permission to the respective practice/pharamcy beforehand. The EHR is designed in such a way that it can be used by all insured persons, even if they don’t have technical skills – and on request even without their own device.

At present, medical documents are often only kept in the practices and hospitals where they were created. This means that the patients and service providers from other institutions cannot access this information. The patient must therefore explain their medical history over and over again. Sometimes new service providers involved in a patient’s care lack information for their medical decisions. This is not the case with the EHR: if a patient opts for an electronic health record, the selected medical documents will always be available to those granted access by that patient. Access is permitted either via the patient’s EHR app or in the practice by inserting the electronic health card and entering a PIN (ad-hoc permission).

This will potentially avoid examinations taking place twice and information about past treatment can be effortlessly obtained. In addition, the patient will be able to view all their documents and see who has accessed which documents when. If the insured person decides they no longer want a particular document to be available, they can delete it from their EHR. The EHR, therefore, does not constitute complete documentation from a medical point of view. The patient can withdraw granted access rights at any time. (Source: https://www.gematik.de)

Please contact the AOK Niedersachsen if you have any questions about the electronic health card. Here you will find information, FAQs and help if you would like to apply for a card.

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